Earth from Space: The Amazon River

©ESA

Earth from Space: The Amazon River.

The Copernicus Sentinel-2A satellite takes us over northern Brazil on 22 August 2017, where the Amazon River meets the Atlantic Ocean.

The sediment-laden water appears brown as it flows from the lower left to the open ocean in the upper right. 'Popcorn' clouds are visible in parts of the image - a common occurrence during the Amazon's dry season, formed by condensed water vapour released by plants and trees during the sunny day.

The land varies in colour from the deep green of dense vegetation to light brown. Taking a closer look to the upper-left section of the image, we can see large brown areas where the vegetation has already been cleared away. Geometric shapes indicate agricultural fields, and linear roads cut through the remaining dense vegetation.

Rainforests worldwide are being destroyed at an alarming rate. This is of great concern because they play an important role in global climate, and are home to a wide variety of plants, animals and insects. More than a third of all species in the world live in the Amazon Rainforest.

Unlike other forests, rainforests have difficulty regrowing after they are destroyed and, owing to their composition, their soils are not suitable for long-term agricultural use.

With their unique view from space, Earth observation satellites have been instrumental in highlighting the vulnerability of the rainforests by documenting the scale of deforestation.

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